There comes a point in every season when every we finally begin to separate the real contenders from the rest of the pack. Teams like the Bills can start 3-0 only to fall flat on their faces and miss the playoffs, while in past years teams like the Chargers have started out slow and come roaring back in November and December.
The Falcons, who currently sit at 1-2, remain 4.5-point favorites in their road clash with the Seattle Seahawks, with the spread set at 39.5 points. If the Falcons can't win this one, they're in deep trouble to put it mildly. With the Bucs and Saints already having a leg up on Atlanta and a tough matchup against the Packers next week, the Falcons need to take care of business Sunday.
But a few underlying trends point to Atlanta doing just that. The Falcons are 10-2 in their last 12 games when favored by 3.5 points or more, and more importantly Mike Smith's team is 6-0 in its last six games against teams with losing records. While the loss in Tampa was tough, the Bucs were 10-6 last year and no pushover.
The Seahawks do possess some talented players. But losing to a team that lacks any real experience at several positions, most notably Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback, is simply not something I foresee happening. As long as the Falcons can shut down the running game and force Tarvaris to throw the ball, I think this game will play right into Mike Smith's hands.
While Seattle's defense has performed well thus far in 2010, the Falcons are likely better than any previously faced for the 'Hawks. Michael Turner should rebound from his 20-yard performance last week, and if Sam "I can sometimes pass protect" Baker can keep Chris Clemons at bay, Atlanta will be 2-2.
And for us, a Falcons win means all is right with the world again. With their backs against the wall this week, I think they'll be able to come through.